Portable Document Format files or PDFs are very useful in modern-day computing, business, dealings, and much more.
PDFs are utilized by almost every industry for a variety of purposes. Business leaders can use them to prepare high-stake reports. Further, students and teachers can utilize PDFs in classroom learning. Those are just a few notable examples.
Given PDFs’ widespread use, people of all ages, backgrounds, and capabilities utilize them. Hence, there’s a need to promote and uphold the accessibility of PDF files.
Why PDF Accessibility Is Important
Making your PDFs accessible is essential for several reasons. First and foremost, it ensures that people with exceptionalities can access and use your content. This includes people with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments.
In addition, optimizing PDF accessibility can help you comply with accessibility laws and regulations. Many countries have laws that require digital content to be accessible to people with exceptionalities. Failing to comply with these laws can result in legal action and damage your organization’s reputation.
Yet the benefits of optimizing PDF accessibility go beyond compliance. Accessible PDFs are easier to use for everyone as well, including people without impairments. They’re easier to navigate, search, and read, which can improve the user experience for all of your readers.
How To Optimize PDF Accessibility
You can take several steps to optimize the accessibility of your PDFs. Here are some tips to get you started:
Use PDF Software That Is Easy-To-Use And Accessible
One of the easiest ways to optimize PDF accessibility is to use software that’s designed with accessibility in mind. For example, programs like Foxit offer a range of tools and features that make it easy to create accessible PDFs.
With accessible PDF programs, you can turn Word documents into pdf, and add tags to your PDFs, which provide structure and meaning to the content. This makes it easier for screen readers and other assistive technologies to interpret the content.
In addition to tags, PDF tools offer features, like reflow view and read-out-loud, making it easier for people with visual impairments to access the content. Reflow view allows users to adjust the size and spacing of text, while read out loud uses text-to-speech technology to read the content aloud.
Add Alternative Text
Alternative text is a description of an image or other non-text element that screen readers read. This allows people with visual impairments to understand the content of the picture. Check out your PDF program if it offers to add alternative text as a feature.
Take note that your PDF’s alternative text should be descriptive and meaningful, providing enough information for someone who can’t see the image to understand its content and context.
Headings provide structure and organization to your PDF’s content. And they make it easier for screen readers to navigate the document. Most PDF tools allow their users to format their PDF documents with headings accordingly.
When using headings, it’s important to use them logically and hierarchically. Start with Heading 1 for the main title of the document, then use Heading 2 for subheadings, Heading 3 for sub-subheadings, and so on. You can add the appropriate tags to the headings, too, making them more accessible.
Lists are another way to provide structure and organization to your content. Also, they make it easier for screen readers to interpret the PDF’s content. Use bulleted lists for unordered items and numbered lists for ordered items.
Tables are a great way to present data in an organized and structured manner. Unfortunately, they can be difficult for screen readers to interpret if they’re not correctly formatted. Hence, ensure that you include the appropriate tags on your PDF tables to make them highly accessible.
Provide context to your readers by utilizing the row and column headers smartly.
Once you’ve taken the steps above, go ahead and check your PDF document’s accessibility by running it on a test. Check your PDF tool’s settings to see if it has a user accessibility checker of some sort that you can run. If so, you can run it, and it’ll generate a report containing information such as accessibility issues. You can address these concerns to promote PDF accessibility.
PDF accessibility is non-negotiable. To further boost your organization’s efforts, you can survey your members to know their take on the matter and incorporate it into your operations.
Optimizing PDF accessibility is important for ensuring your content is accessible to everyone. This is possible by utilizing PDF programs that are accessible, adding alternative texts, using headings and lists, checking accessibility, and following best practices for creating accessible content.
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